Consider Lead Safety When Remodeling Your Home

by Dan Derkum


There are many things you may think about when you decide to remodel your home: should we remodel the bathroom first, or the kitchen? Should we do a room addition or a complete home remodel? How do we choose the right colors? Marble, granite, or Corian counter tops? But did it occur to you to consider the presence of lead in your home, and that disturbing walls and floors may require someone qualified to handle that task?


Effective April 22, 2010, for dwellings constructed prior to 1979 (1978 and older), the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires renovators to inform the owner-occupant that the dwelling may contain unhealthful levels of lead in paint or surface coatings. When (a) interior work disturbs 6 square feet or more of painted or surface coatings in any room, or (b) exterior work disturbs 20 square feet or more of painted or surface coatings, unhealthful levels of lead in paint or surface coatings may be present. By law, the renovator must give you the EPA pamphlet, "Lead Safe Certified Guide to Renovate Right," if the guidelines above are met or exceeded.


Federal standards define unhealthful lead-based paint or surface coatings as "any paint or surface coatings that contain lead equal to or in excess of 1.0 milligram per square centimeter or more than 0.5 percent by weight."


Health Risks

The health risks of lead are very hazardous to children, pregnant women, adults, and workers. Lead exposure causes permanent brain damage. Children under six are most at risk from small amounts of lead. Among adults, pregnant women are especially at risk from exposure to lead. In children, lead can cause nervous system and kidney damage, decreased intelligence, attention deficit disorder, learning disabilities; speech, language, and behavior problems. In pregnant women, lead is passed from the mother to the fetus and can cause miscarriages, premature births, brain damage, and low birth weight.


Health effects of lead in adults include high blood pressure, fertility problems in men and women, digestive problems, nerve disorders, memory and concentration problems, sexual disorders, and muscle and joint pain.


Special EPA mandated procedures were developed by the Federal Government over the last 18 years to safely and properly remove painted or surface coatings containing lead. These include, but are not limited to, windows, doors, wall surfaces (painted drywall, gypsum board, plaster, paneling, etc.), cabinets, baseboards, chair rails, crown moldings, trim around doors and windows, etc. The removal, replacement, and alteration of all windows must conform to these new EPA guidelines.


These EPA mandated Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) federal regulations require that special attention and procedures be used in the containment of lead-based dust hazards, the removal and disposal of lead-based products, and proper cleaning both during and after renovation. Look for a contractor in your area that displays the EPA's "Lead-Safe Certified Firm" logo. An authentic logo will carry the lead-safe contracor's certification number below it.


If you have any questions about lead-safe remodeling, please call me, Dan Derkum, at (949) 380-0177 or e-mail me by filling out our quick contact form

About the Author
Daniel A. Derkum is the owner of DAD's Construction, a leading South Orange County, California design-and-build remodeling and renovation contractor.

Google author's profile